Those people out there who say “Laughter is the best medicine” are full of crap. In fact, laughing too much can kill you. Sit down calmly and read the rest of this story without letting even a giggle squeak out. It’s for your own safety.
In March of 1975, a 50-year old bricklayer in Norfolk, England named Alex Mitchell keeled over and died. The cause of death: too much laughter. Mitchell was watching his favorite TV show and a particularly hilarious scene involving a Scotsman in a kilt got him chuckling. After a 25-minute giggle fit, Mitchell let out one final guffaw and dropped dead, all of which was witnessed by Mitchell’s wife.
This was not your standard heart attack from overexertion. Mitchell suffered from an inheritable heart-rhythm disorder called long QT syndrome. The disorder leaves the heart susceptible to long breaks between heart beats, especially after moments of excitement. The heart usually resets itself after a few beats, but when it doesn’t, the results are fatal. Long QT syndrome doesn’t just strike the elderly. The disease has been known to take the lives of healthy 20-somethings, too.
So yes, the phrase “died laughing” has a very literal meaning. Remember that the next time you plop down on the couch with your favorite “Everybody Loves Raymond” DVDs.